Denton Welch is one of those novelists whose work you read, sink into, marvel at and just live through and then, if you are like me, put them away for a while and every few years go back to them and have the same wonderful feeling of discovery and renewed appreciation. For me, Forrest Reid is another novelist in this category. The rather fun Galley Beggar Press is producing what look to be decent editions of Welch's three novels as a start in their Digital Classics series. Their blurbs are also very good. If you are happy reading digital books and you haven't read him then there's no recommending Welch highly enough and, if you have read him before... is it time that you, like me, slipped back into his world again?
Galley Press blurbs below their covers
‘I don’t understand what to do, how to live’: so says the 15-year-old Orvil – who, as a boy who glories and suffers in the agonies of adolescence, dissecting the teenage years with an acuity, stands as a clear (marvelously British) ancestor of The Catcher In The Rye’s Holden Caulfield.
At the age of twenty, the novelist Denton Welch suffered a cycling accident that left him partially paralyzed; the injuries that he sustained were to leave him in almost constant pain for the rest of his life, as well as bestowing upon him the spinal tuberculosis that would kill him at the age of 33. A Voice Trough a Cloud – increasingly regarded as Welch’s masterpiece – is his account of this accident and the period of convalescence soon after. The unsparing chronicle of the world of a hospital patient – riddled with anger, boredom, almost unbearable stabs of pain and sharp flashes of humour – A Voice Trough a Cloud is, as John Updike wrote in The New Yorker, “An incomparable account of shattered flash and refracted spirit.” His third and final novel, and written at a point when Welch could write for no more than a few minutes a day, A Voice Trough A Cloud is nonetheless possibly one of the most complete accounts of health and mortality; as Edmund White says, it is a book of “long slow dying”, “through which all the world’s strangeness can be perceived.”